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Thoughts on DineLA2011

Did anyone go to any of the restaurants last year? What should we avoid? I think I'm going to try some this year.

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    1. Drago centro was really disappointing, the food sounded great, execution was at best mediocre. What a buzz kill because I had heard great things from many people about this place. Water grill is a safe bet, had a great meal with friends there, service was first class.

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      Drago Restaurant
      2628 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403

      10 Replies
      1. re: chezwhitey

        Too bad about your experience at Drago. I love the place, and it was as good as always last week (not DineLA). I'll be going to Water Grill tonight for their DineLA menu, and then BLD, Spago, and Upstairs 2 later in the cycle. May try to squeeze one or 2 more in as well.

        1. re: smgradman

          Fogo De Chao is a great deal. $44 for something that costs, $60, I think. Since I found that FDC is a part of DineLA, I don't go at other times.

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          Fogo De Chao
          133 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

          1. re: reality check

            Since it also includes desert, it's an even better deal!

            1. re: manku

              DineLA menu at Water Grill was a great bargain, especially since they still have their "no corkage fee" policy. But be aware that they now only offer a shuttle to Disney Hall and the Music Center on Saturday night.

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              Water Grill
              544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

              1. re: smgradman

                Glad to hear you liked the water grill, I was really impressed with not only their food but professionalism and friendliness. This is why I like dineLA so I can try new places and know where to go when I want to splurge rather than doing it blind.

                1. re: chezwhitey

                  I went to Water Grill on Sunday and even though I had planned to order from the DINE LA menu changed my mind once I was at the restaurant....on Sunday the restaurant has a three-course New England clambake (whole lobster, clams, mussels, linguica, etc.) for only a few dollars more than the DINELA entree....the meal was fabulous....the dessert (maple budino) was exquisite, great coffee, and service was flawless....I found the ambience a bit dated but the meal and service more than made up for the location....I will be going to Bazaar next and it is also a first time visit....if I could afford three restaurants I would also go to Spago or Chinois; the last time I visited these restaurants was in the 80's

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                  Water Grill
                  544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

                  Spago
                  176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                  1. re: foufou

                    Yes, I was tempted by the clambake as well, but ended up being very happy with the DineLA menu. I went to BLD last night, an excellent $34 menu. Both the mushroom/chestnut soup and the duck confit tostada were tasty starters, the whole steelhead on truffled potatoes was delicious, and the desserts very nice as well. Also, the $21 wine flight was a surprising bargain: 04 Alsatian Gwz, 06 Burgundy, 98 Sauterne.

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                    BLD Restaurant
                    7450 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                    1. re: smgradman

                      Good to know, I'm making rezzies there next.

              2. re: manku

                if you have space for desert after eating at FdC, I commend your restraint.

                1. re: manku

                  We went last night to Fogo de Chao...and came home happy and fat campers. Excellent food, great service, and I was so full I needed to take the dessert home. Thanks to FdC for another lovely gluttonous evening.

          2. Yes, I have gone three times. I tried Craft and was not impressed by the food. I tried Street and was underwhelmed. I am going to try LA Market in the JW Marriott at LA Live (downtonw Los Angeles) next Friday for dinner, and I have a feeling it's going to be great. The Mixing Room, across from LA Market, is a nice place for cocktails when in the LA Live area. I have a fond memory of having dinner at Luna Park for DineLA last year. It was very good, and I almost hosted a party there because I liked it that much. I haven't been there since, though, so I can't say if things have changed or not.

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            Luna Park
            672 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

            4 Replies
            1. re: katkoupai

              I just wanted to post my experience at LA Market (inside the JW Marriott hotel at LA Live). The food was great. I had the beet salad, rib, and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. Excellent service, delicious bread basket, good starter cocktail (pomegranate jalapeno and tequila-- it was called "Pomegranate Heat"). Best Dine LA menu I've had so far in the last 2 years. Total cost was about $60 per person for the Dine LA dinner menu, one cocktail and a 17% tip. My only complaint is I would've liked more beets and goat cheese and no frise in the beet salad. I love beets, and I think a red leaf lettuce bed would've been nicer than the frise for that particular starter. Overall, very pleased.

              1. re: katkoupai

                Photos of Dine LA at LA Market:

                 
                 
                 
                1. re: katkoupai

                  Glad at least you had a good experience at LA market. i went there today for lunch and was absolutely disappointed. Awful service, average food. First I arrived 10 minutes early for my reservation but was still made to wait 20 minutes despite the restaurant only being half full. At least the hostess was semi apologetic about that, for some reason she may have thought we had more people in our party. Anyway, after we sit down, we were not given any bread unlike the other tables. We then had to wait over 25 minutes since we ordered our dishes before the first course came out. This is when our bread came out also The waiter was apologetic and puzzled that our food had not come out. Immediately after we finished, they brought our entrees, no time in between courses, just pick up old dish, put in new dish. Same for desert. Overall the service was a complete cluster f.... Multiple people asking for our orders, lack of silverware etc. In defense of the staff, while their communication was inept at best, at least they weren't rude. The food itself was ok, nothing special, nothing really game changing, hamachi app, roasted chicken nice truffled potatoes, red velvet cake. At least they didn't send us home hungry because the velvet cake portion was huge. Overall, I would not go back, I'd rather even go to wolfgang puck bar and grill in the same complex. The one highlight was seeing the HK winner, Nona manning the pass.

                  1. re: chezwhitey

                    Hi, sorry your experience was so poor. When I got there, I got seated right away, even though my friend was still parking. We had a reservation. The restaurant was fairly busy, at 2/3 full. Our server was excellent and very attentive. My friend is an avid Yelper, and she loved her food, too. She got the pumpkin ravioli, a mojito and the apple pie for dessert. We've both done DineLA a number of times and both thought it was our best DineLA meal in a while. I wonder if they were short on staff in the kitchen and in front when you went. I'll try to check out the WP Bar and Grill, that you mentioned. It sounds good. I do love WP24 for a cocktail.

            2. Went to Lawry's last night for DineLA. Everything was superb. I was especially impressed with the lobster tail - sweet, succulent, delicious!
              Palate Food+Wine tomorrow. Maybe Craft this weekend.
              Last October's DineLA we had fabulous meals at Spago and Water Grill.

              10 Replies
              1. re: WildSwede

                Sorry you can't do Craft DineLA on the weekend as they are closed Sundays.

                1. re: wienermobile

                  Too bad about Craft closing on Sunday. It used to be their corkage-free night.

                2. re: WildSwede

                  Thanks for posting about Lawry's. I still have never been there, and I've been meaning to check it out for years. Last year, I wanted to go for DineLA and the year before that, I wanted to just go, but most of my foodie friends have had their eyes on other places. I will make it there, eventually.

                  1. re: WildSwede

                    Lawry's is also a great deal, prime rib and lobster + dessert and salad for $44? A steal.

                    1. re: WildSwede

                      This year they are including Saturdays, I heard somewhere (not sure if it is true or not). Someone on one of the meetup groups is planning it. Either way, it is full, so I won't be doing it this time around. ;-(

                      1. re: WildSwede

                        Individual restaurants may choose to offer the DineLA deal on Saturdays, but officially it is Sunday through Friday only.

                          1. re: smgradman

                            Craft is participating for Saturdays as well. I just booked mine for Saturday Jan 28th, and they'll be doing it on Feb 4th, too.

                        1. re: WildSwede

                          Went to Palate Food+Wine last night. Had 7pm reservations but got there a little early. No problem, they seated us anyway. In the back bar room. We were the only diners there when we got there, but by the time we left, the place was packed. They were having a $10 Pinot Noir (I think that was the wine) tasting that night. And the bar got really full.
                          The interior is very nice with various rooms. Music was nice (at first - more on that later).
                          Our waitress ended up also being the bartender and she was very good. We also really liked the runners, one of which gave us 'tips" on how to eat things. Helpful.
                          We ordered: we both got the ricotta gnocchi / melted leeks / crispy potatoes / honshimejii mushrooms appetizer. It was pretty good. For mains, I ordered the black cod / celery root / brussels sprouts / kumquat + bacon + pistachio relish. This dish did not seem to come together for me. The cod was cooked to perfection - creamy white and tender. But unless you got a piece of bacon, the dish was pretty bland. My friend ordered the duck leg confit / stewed chickpeas / radicchio / black olives / preserved orange. She kept stopping mid bite and saying things like "this is delicious" "this is so good", so I am assuming she really, really liked it (in fact, her empty plate attested to this fact). For dessert, I ordered the buttermilk panna cotta / winter fruits / orange blossom h2o. The h2o was phenomenal - especially with the tiny slivers of blood orange, ruby grapefruit and orange floating in it. The panna cotta - not so much. I think it would have been good on its own with maybe some sort of caramel or chocolate sauce but the buttermilk just seemed to overwhelm the delicateness of the orange blossom water. About half of the panna cotta was left with none of the water. My friend ordered the persimmon cake / cinnamon anglaise / dates. These little cakes were good. I thought they were some sort of lavender flavor, not persimmon. Two tiny cakes in a bundt-cake shape on the angllaise. The slivered dates really brought this together. We also ordered the olives and the Porkfolio. The bartender recommended a really nice white wine (of course I cannot remember the name) which went very well with my dish. All in all, my favorites were the Gnocci, porkfolio and olives. I could have done without the other items. The bread they serve with butter is very good and I love the bread crisps they served with the porkfolio (I think they serve the same ones with their potted items - definitely want to try those at some point).
                          Now, back to the music. As we were eating, the music got so loud that we could not even hear eachother. I know I missed a lot of what my friend said and I had to have her repeat herself every time she spoke. We asked if they could turn down the music, and it seemed maybe they did, but then the next song it was just as loud as before. We joked that what we thought was turning down the music was actually the end of a song! Then all of a sudden jazz music started blaring - BLARING. I said "is there a band in here?". Sure enough, there was a band playing in the next room (the room we had to walk through to get to our table). It was uncomfortably loud. Obnoxiously loud. Unacceptably loud. That, mixed with all the people in the bar (only 2 tables were not sat when we left) and the non-existent acoustics, it became really painful. We left.
                          Service was great. Timing of dishes really good. I would probably go back and skip their mains and desserts and stick with several apps. They seem to execute these the best.
                          If you plan on going here, be sure to request the front room if you would like to hear your dining companions. If you don't care to speak with them sit in the bar room

                          1. re: WildSwede

                            Cafe Pinot was good last two years for lunch. Went to Border Grill last week and they are giving half portions for the DineLA menu, ie half portion app, skinny little sliver of the goat flan. The main was reasonably sized. Even with a $10 coupon off the $16 base price, by the time you add tax tip and parking it came out as a "meh".

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                            Cafe Pinot
                            700 West Fifth St., Los Angeles, CA 90071

                        2. Can anyone recommend a dineLA lunch spot in downtown besides Water Grill, Border Grill, and Starry Kitchen?
                          I was thinking Magnolia, The Farm, or LA Market but I haven't heard much about these three.. Thanks for the help.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: toonoble

                            Went to wolgang at la live, not for dine la but nye I had the prix fix menu and was pleasantly surprised. If you can handle the cheesiness that is la live and epileptic seizure inducing lights, I'd say give it a try.

                            1. re: toonoble

                              don't waste such a good deal @The Farm - the food is mediocre. not sure how LA Market is, but i've never been wowed by Kerry Simon's food at SimonLA so it's not on my must-try list.

                              if i were in your shoes i'd try Mas Malo...i haven't been there yet, but preliminary reports are positive.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                I saw a review of Mas Malo in the LA Times today. Apparently, some of the meat (for example, the carnitas) is marinated in Coke to make it tender. Wow! Seems decadent and potentially hazardous to one's health, or in other words, worth checking out. :)

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                                Mas Malo
                                515 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

                              2. re: toonoble

                                I vote for Magnolia, but I haven't tried Water Grill or Starry Kitchen. I went to Magnolia in downtown LA for DineLA last year. I was pleasantly surprised by the quaility and freshness of the food (everything tasted homemade, from scratch, from the main meal to the dessert), and the price was also right. I would definitely go back for DineLA there. I had the steak (it was a thin steak, perhaps skirt steak) and the berry cobbler for dessert. The cobbler came warm with a small scoop of ice cream. As I recall, the drinks from the bar were pretty good, too.